Catalan leader faces mounting pressure from all sides
Puigdemont has until Monday to clarify if he declared independence
Catalonia’s leader faced mounting pressure Friday from all sides, with hard-liners in the separatist movement demanding he definitively declare independence from Spain. Spain’s government and the European Union, on the other hand, insisted he must abandon the region’s secession plans.
For Spain, Carles Puigdemont simply has to say one of two words in his response. “It’s just a yes or a no,” Saenz de Santamaria said after a weekly Cabinet meeting.
“It’s in Puigdemont’s hands” to avoid the extraordinary measures that would allow central authorities a partial or full suspension of the prosperous region’s autonomy, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said.
The central government has given Puigdemont a Monday deadline to make clear whether he has already declared independence for the region and to fall in line with Spain’s laws by Oct. 19 if he wants to avoid losing some or all of the region’s autonomous powers.
If Puigdemont says he did declare independence, then he will have three more days to cancel any secession plans. If he refuses to, or doesn’t answer, Rajoy has threatened to trigger for the first time a constitutional article that could give central authorities power to intervene directly in Catalonia.
The National Catalan Assembly, or ANC, a civil society group that organized massive protests in support of secession, issued a brief statement with a similar message.
“It doesn’t make sense to keep the suspension of the independence declaration” given Madrid’s rejection of any dialogue, ANC said in the statement.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker joined the appeal for Catalan separatists to drop their secession bid. While the conflict is a Spanish issue, it could affect the EU by encouraging other places with ambitions of independence, he said. “I wouldn’t like a European Union that in 15 years consists of 98 states,” Juncker said in Luxembourg. “It’s already pretty difficult with 28.”